The photos of the Santos farm house and barn were taken in 1992 just before they were demolished. In 1999, two large houses were built on the property at 35 LaVerne and 112 Homestead Blvd.
William and Minnie Santos had five sons and five daughters, all born in Mill Valley between 1895 and 1914. William did odd jobs for Ralston White, president of the Tamalpais Land & Water Co. In 1908 Ralston White gave William two acres between LaVerne Ave. and Homestead Blvd. A friend built the house in the photo for them.
Minnie was born and raised on a ranch near Mt. Diablo and knew a lot more about farming than her husband. She therefore did most of the farm work with help from the children. William did odd jobs for cash and provided part of the food for the family by hunting game and digging clams at the shore near the road to Tiburon.
They had a few milk cows, butchered a calf, a pig or a cow once in a while, gathered eggs from laying hens and raised vegetables. Since Minnie did not have an ice box, she used traditional food preservation methods: canning, pickling, and submerging meat in fat.
When William died in 1924, Minnie still had four school age children. To make ends meet, she would babysit, something she had a lot of experience in. Her older sons also helped out financially. One worked at Mill Valley Lumber Co. Another drove a cab in Mill Valley.
If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.